2021 PLWA Kolyang Artist Lab | Meet the participants and mentors

We are so excited to announce our 2021 PLWA Kolyang Artist Lab (previously Diversity Lab)  which will be running from May 6th – 10th at Fremantle Arts Centre.  

The Lab is a safe and creative environment for the next generation of First Nations and Culturally Diverse artists in WA to explore ideas, build new relationships and unpack performance-making processes 

The Name

This year we have been especially lucky to work alongside Clint and Kylie Bracknell to find a name for this program that not only celebrates the diversity of experiences and knowledge each of us bringsbut also connects us through our shared experiences, whilst honouring the land upon which we live.   

Kolyang is the Noongar name for the Western Australian Golden Wattle

Acacia Saligna is widely distributed throughout the south west of Western Australia and has been planted extensively in semi-arid areas of Africa, South America and the Middle East as windbreaks and for stabilisation of sand dunes or erosion. An emblematic, nectareous plant from the Noongar region, it has spread roots all over the world and links us all back here, to Boorloo, Perth. 

Golden Wattle is Australia’s national flower and this continent has always been a place of diversity. The Golden Wattle blooms in kambarang (spring), with large fluffy, yellow, sweet smelling flower heads. Each Golden Wattle flower head is a bunch of many tiny flowers – symbolic of communities connected to the same tree or place [1]. 

The Lab

Now in its second year, the 2021 Kolyang Artist Lab aims to equip participants with the tools and support to pursue their respective careers in the arts; addressing cultural safety protocols and unpacking the practical aspects of the creative and collaborative process to birth intercultural and self-determined works. 

Performing Lines has a long history of running Residency programs across the country, modeled on the Tarraleah Residency led by Tasmania  Performs Producer, Annette Downs. The Kolyang Artist Lab is inspired by Tarraleah and was introduced to the Perth community in 2020 This lab is born out of Producer Zainab Syed’s personal experience creating works with culturally diverse artists and PLWA’s commitment to ensuring we continue to support the development of new voices and stories in a safe environment for future presentations on our stages locally and nationally. 

The Mentors

This year, we are so excited to have some of WA’s most incredible leaders; Kylie Bracknell, Mark Howett, Glenn Iseger Pilkington, Zoe Atkinson, Anna Reece, Annette Carmichael, Clare Watson, Michelle Hovane, Francis Italiano, Shelagh MagazdaMararo Wangai, Jay Emmanuel, Ian Wilkes and Shona Erskine, hosting workshops, group discussions and one-on-one sessions over the course of the lab.

The Lab has been intentionally built to connect culturally diverse and non-diverse artform mentors to engage in intergenerational, intercultural & cross-artform conversations to build new connections, break down silos and engage in rigorous discussionsIn a country that is home to many diverse peoplewe want to create space to forge cultural identities that enable us to understand each other better, and find new ways of working together more authentically.  We hope, in some small way, this Lab will be a springboard for that journey not only for those involved but for the industry at large.  

The Participants

 Introducing our 2021 Cohort 

Ariane Rubina Katscherian


Ariane Katscherian is a multidisciplinary artist, live performance producer, community arts worker and technical production nerd living on Whadjuk Noongar boodja. She is a physical theatre-maker and dancer and her practice includes classical and cultural dance, mime, clowning, and puppetry. She is also a visual artist and enjoys building puppets, textiles, ceramics, and murals.

Passionate about creating space for community members from different cultural backgrounds to connect meaningfully, Ariane’s most recent project is a physical theatre performance celebrating migrants’ stories while weaving together fabrics, carpets and laces on stage to form the set and recreate the traditional motifs and symbols that represent our cultures.

Asha Kiani
Irish-Indian-Iranian Australian


Asha Kiani is a performer, theatre maker, musician and producer. Raised by her Indian father and Irish mother in country WA, and blended with her Iranian partner and extended family, she draws inspiration from the diverse threads that weave her identity. In 2019, Asha was part of devising and performing in Saga Sisterhood, a transformative performance project for women of South Asian identity. In 2020, she wrote and performed her debut solo theatre piece Drift which explored themes of grief and loss (The Blue Room Theatre, 600 Seconds). In 2020, Asha co-founded the Second Generation Collective with local video artist Elham Eshraghian-Haakansson, and together they have been working with the local Iranian-Australian community. Currently, she works as a Teaching Artist for Barking Gecko Theatre Company, is a member of Women of Music Production Perth (WOMPP), and is writing and producing her debut EP.

Asha is interested in exploring ideas around grief and trauma, understanding grief from different viewpoints, cultural backgrounds and generations to create a work that helps create empathy around the loss experienced when grieving the death of someone or the loss of identity or a sense of home or culture or language.

Charlie Yong
Chinese/Burmese – Australian


Born in Thailand, and half Burmese, half Chinese, Charlie moved to Australia after a month of being born in Thailand. He’s an aspiring graphic designer/illustrator currently in his final year at Curtin University. Charlie’s aspiration is to create murals and illustrate children’s books that inspire viewers throughout the world.

In his latest project, Charlie explores the use of multimedia as a medium. Using cassette tapes as the main material, he hopes to create a wall installation that focuses on history and including street art elements (e.g.spray paint and markers).

Crystal Nguyen


Crystal Nguyen is an actor and singer with a passion for redefining beauty standards and representations of people with disabilities in the arts. She lives with Brittle Bones Disease and strives to present her physicality as a strength in her creative expressions. Crystal’s notable achievements include being part of the ensemble in Black Swan State Theatre productions of The Events (2018), Our Town (2019), co-starring in APK Productions’ staging of PASSING: An Asian-Australian Musical at Fringe World 2021 and devising/performing her original piece in BESIDE at Perth Festival 2021.

Crystal’s latest work-in-development is a one-woman show or immersive experience to tell her story of being both included and excluded by society. She became viral in her home country Vietnam after participating in a talent show as a disabled singer. She now wants to tackle the issues faced during and after being on the talent show.


Daniel Motearefi


Daniel is an actor and writer who has been working in Perth for several years now. He works in both film and theatre and being an Australian of Middle-Eastern descent, he loves incorporating culture into his works.

During the lab, Daniel would like to work on the adaptation of a two-thousand-year-old Persian fairy tale he has been translating over the last few years.

Laura Liu


Laura Liu is an emerging playwright and theatre-maker who recently graduated with a Bachelor of Performing Arts (Performance Making) from WAAPA in 2019. Laura is interested in creating works she would have liked to have seen in high school, and works that represent niche but truthful subcultures.

Laura is currently working on a children’s theatre piece based on/inspired by one or more Chinese folklores. She’s interested in it being a semi-interactive and engaging experience to subtly introduces young Australian audiences to some aspects of their Chinese friends’ home life and values, and continue to celebrate the rich history of Chinese storytelling.


Lisa Watson
South African


Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Lisa grew up in New Zealand and currently lives in Perth. Lisa is a Creative Soul who is finding her way in this world. She loves connecting with the community and exploring her creative passions, like acting and writing. Lisa is an event planner and loves being involved in the Arts and helping creatives around her thrive.

In recent years, Lisa has been engaged in creative projects that have brought out more pride in her cultural background. She tries to make sure that culture shines through in all her content along with an uplifting and educational aspect as well. Culture is at the heart of everything she does.

Lucy Wong


Lucy Wong is a maker, actor, collaborator and writer from Melbourne. She is currently based in Perth completing her Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA) at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) as well as Static Drive’s, To The Front, workshop series. Lucy has a keen interest in comedy, farce, improvisation and character comedy and now has aspirations to create audience-interactive performance and investigate if this style has more of a place in contemporary theatre.

Lucy’s newest work is an exploration of catharsis through an intimate one-on-one audience-interactive piece where she recites verbatim monologues of what people wish they could say to certain people who are unreachable for some reason (i.e dead, an ex, etc.) and don’t have a relationship where these things can be discussed.

Manjula Radha Krishnan


Manjula is a Malaysian born performing artist and choreographer who has called Perth home for the last 20 years. Manju has trained extensively in the Indian classical dance styles of Bharata Natyam, Odissi and Kathak as well as Contemporary dance at the Temple of Fine Arts (TFA) in Malaysia and Saraswathi Mahavidhyalaya (SMV) in Perth. Manju is also passionate about teaching the arts at SMV (Perth) and is part of the core team that produces Perth’s premier Deepavali celebration; the annual Swan Festival of Lights. Manju recently performed in the theatre production Children of the Sea that premiered at Perth Festival 2021.

During the lab, Manju would like to use her knowledge of classical and contemporary dance to explore and break away from the classical repertoire, and investigate the relationship between text and movement and how to build a narrative into her dance practice.

Medina Dizdarevic
Bosnian Muslim


Medina Dizdarevic is an emerging Bosnian Muslim writer from Perth. Born to refugee parents, her work explores displacement, the Muslim experience and intergenerational trauma. She graduated from Curtin University in 2015 with a Bachelors degree in Creative Writing and endeavours to use theatrical storytelling as a means of community healing, joy and connection. She is currently a participant in Playwrights To the Front with Static Drive Co and a dedicated member of Garrick Theatre’s production committee.

In her recent work “The Strangers” she’s crafting a narrative that centres Muslims as heroes. By creating a play with true emotional depth and realistic, unapologetic Muslim characters, she wants to explore friendship, vulnerability and the unique experience of being bonded through a faith.

Michele Gould
Thai Australian


Michele Gould is a performing artist, writer and total dork who is a recent Musical Theatre graduate of Principal Academy of Dance. She has previously completed the diploma of Musical Theatre from WAAPA. She had her first professional debut in 2020 in We Will Rock You with Platinum Entertainment.

Michele is also a writer with a passionate interest in diversity and representation. She debuted her first musical PASSING at Fringe World 2021 to a sold-out audience with positive reviews.

Her latest’s work-in-development, 107, is a musical comedy about going to high school born from her personal frustrations with the boarding and private all-girls school system in Australia and the combined anecdotal experience of my peers.


Valerie Weyland


Valerie Weyland is a storyteller, nurturer, healer, creative, lover of the seen and unseen, ever-present student and ever-evolving teacher. She is Nigerian-American, born and raised in Inglewood, California and has called Western Australia home for over 9 years. She is the founder of Brown Girl Bloom, a loving space for Black, Indigenous and Women of colour to heal and bloom with a focus on meditation and reiki (energy healing). Her creative work centres around inspiring us all to embrace the unfolding of life itself and coming home to our innate inner abundance.


Special thanks to the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries and Fremantle Arts Centre for their support of this program.  


[1] This program was named in consultation with Boomerang and Spear. Special thanks to Kylie and Clint Bracknell for their support and time.

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In everything we do, we acknowledge that we live on Aboriginal land and constantly learn from the wisdom of First Peoples.

Where we are and the history that precedes us informs how we work and how we move forward.